Natural Essays

Don’t put your feet up yet

By Richard Phelps
Posted 10/29/20

These are spectacular days. It’s why the word was invented. The yellows, oranges, reds, mixed with green oaks, make our landscape better than ice cream. You can’t take your eyes off it. …

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Natural Essays

Don’t put your feet up yet


These are spectacular days. It’s why the word was invented. The yellows, oranges, reds, mixed with green oaks, make our landscape better than ice cream. You can’t take your eyes off it. It creates, like, a frequency. We hum. It hums with us. Fall is such a time of change. Even with the hum, it makes me uneasy. Spring I love, summer I love, fall makes me run for the hills. Summer was great. I like it hot. The bees did well even with the drought. The garden produced some killer tomatoes and the onions went fast and sold out. But….

Our local dirt farmers start to look for a break right about now. Our big corn guy, pushing 80, has been slinging bags of corn for months, seven days a week, sometimes twice a day. Our big potato and city market guy, over 80 himself, leaves in the dark to deliver crates of pumpkins. It’s non-stop. It’s every day. It’s a way of life and no matter how much you love it, comes a time when you want it to slow down. His nephew has been in the hospital for months, his wife running their portion of the farm. Nothing is easy. The last corn has been picked. The potatoes have been bagged. A killing frost ended some crops early. Peppers are done. The only thing left green in my field are the turnips.

Yet, for a garlic guy like me, it’s almost time to start planting. Garlic is a nine month crop and is planted in the late fall. I have been working on a new field. I plowed it and disked it, picked off stones. Then I left the grasses to start growing from what roots survived the first trauma, and then I disked it again. And picked rocks again. I hooked up the big tractor-tiller and tilled it. This brought out another crop of stones to harvest. We took the stones. Added them to the field road. Tilled again. This passage revealed what I had suspected since the first pass of the plow – that there is a big monster stone right in the middle of the field, just below the surface, like a U-Boat. Gotta get it out. Can’t keep hitting it with the blades of the machines. We started digging around it by hand. Bigger and bigger. The 8 foot bar would not budge it. I called Jeffrey Reichle. He takes the hay. He’s got equipment. “Hey, Jeffrey, when you get a minute….”

He drove over a yellow tractor-sized excavator with a foot and half bucket, and with some expertise, the bolder was on the surface, and he slid it over onto the fencerow where it took its place next to another erratic boulder removed from the field generations ago, perhaps by my grandfather. There they sit and there they will sit!

Jeffrey slipped the subsoil back into the hole in the field and then dressed it with the top-soil set aside in the beginning. Looks like nothing was there. Just tractor tire marks in the soil. This week I will add composted horse manure and do the final tilling. We will begin planting garlic the day after Biden is elected. Breathe deep.

I bought a 40 pound bag of Music garlic from a reputable grower and will add this variety to my stable for next year. Music is a porcelain garlic developed in Canada and of middling heat. People ask for it. We are also planting German red, Carpathian, White Continental, and our own Mystery garlic. Can’t wait to get my hands in the soil. It’s a great feeling when it’s all in the ground and you can say, “Let it snow.” Maybe then I can put my feet up. Please continue to support these local farmers and their farm stands and stores. Thanks.


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